Sunday, October 15, 2006

developing nation

what does that mean? Developing from what to what? Aren't we all developing nations? The Costa Rica of today is very different from that of 2 generations ago: isn't that true of most places though?
My school teaches english, it also teaches the cultural norms, expectations and lifestyle of the US. I've been concerned at the cultural imperialism since I got here, but is that fair?
I think so: last week we held a large school assembly, the parents clapped dutifully after each performance, but the most enthusiastic and genuine applause was for the 2 pieces (out of 15) which were tico. The relief at seeing something familiar was palatable.
The two kids in my class who have the healthiest homelife are also the most racist and resistant to change.
People send their kids to the school so they learn english, so they make more money, so they have better lives. That's not wrong, it makes sense. But what is the cost of developing a nation? How much of the culture gets lost along the way?
We just celebrated Culture Day - it marks the anniversary of Columbus' 'discovering' Costa Rica, but Columbus himself is not celebrated, rather the tico way of life is. It's not a big holiday, there's indigenous costumes, campesino costumes and that's about it. I can't see what the tico way of life is, they don't seem very sentimental about their past or their heritage. The guidebooks say there's not much culture here, rather a shocking thing to say of a country, but in a way it seems to be that there is very little emphasis on culture. Perhaps it's that the dominant racial mix is of Spanish origin and therefore still fairly new (Columbus landed in 1502). Perhaps it's that much of the population still lives a fairly campesino lifestyle: exsiting on a small parcel of land with chickens and cows, cold water and no phone. Culture is a luxury reserved only for developed nations?